Dallas Real Producers: TruPlace Partner Spotlight
February 16, 2022
The New Way to Market a Listing
In 2003, Bob and Suzi Cusack had a property they rented out when they weren’t using it as a second home. It was a cozy, two-story, single-family home with a panoramic view of rolling hills with an expansive deck. But the photos alone did not convey how beautiful the view was or the layout of the home.
Bob, being an engineer, created the first Interactive Floor Plan Tour – a floor plan that brought up a photo of the corresponding room when using a mouse to hover over the name of that room. The interactive floor plan tour has evolved since the first version, but the easy-to-use interface continues to be an attractive way to showcase a property.
The creation of that technology was just the beginning. “Other vacation rental owners also wanted the interactive floor plan,” says Bob, who is now the CEO. “But they wanted it on a link they could share out in emails, on their website, etc. Today, all tours are hosted on a unique URL, which also captures analytics data, which is used to improve marketing efforts on the property.”
Soon, real estate agents saw the floor plan and wanted to use it on their sales listings. But they also needed the photos to go with it.
“Covid changed almost everything for real estate. It’s a new era for agents. They’re going to need better tools, smarter technology, and vendor partners offering a true competitive edge”– Rebecca Lombardo, Chief Marketing Officer
Again, Bob built a proprietary software system for scheduling photographers and coordinating shoots to make tours come to life. Suzi, who is now CFO, worked to bring in more clients, and in 2018. HomeAway came to TruPlace asking for a partnership. They saw the value in having premium visuals on properties across the country.
In order to work for TruPlace though, photographers had to be trained on how to create the interactive floor plan. They had to complete a training and certification course before being hired, which is how the quality and consistency remained, and then attracted Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner), which now features TruPlace’s one-of-a-kind TruFusion 3D Tour, as an approved property visuals provider.
The Pandemic Changed Everything
The reason TruPlace tours are such a great fit for vacation rentals is the exact reason why they are such a perfect fit for marketing a listing during a pandemic. People viewing these properties were never going to step foot in them, prior to converting. Some buyers were making offers sight unseen. Agents found themselves on the phone with frantic out-of-town buyers having to answer detailed questions about their listings – questions that would have been answered by putting a floor plan tour on the property.
A study by Redfin that was conducted about seven months into the pandemic found that 78% of home buyers decided to view more properties virtually. And it wasn’t just buyers preferring virtual tours. Sellers, worried about a high volume of people traipsing through their home, also began to prefer having a virtual tour instead of just photos. While safety concerns have subsided since then, the preference for quality virtual tours has not.
“Using a TruPlace tour means not having to use your imagination to link to the images together in your head. We want people viewing our tours to be able to imagine themselves in that space. We’ve made our tour navigation so easy that the eyes focus on exploring the property, not trying to figure out how to click through it.”– Rebecca Lombardo, Chief Marketing Officer at TruPlace
TruPlace: The Real Estate Marketing Resource
In the last 17+ years, TruPlace has produced over 100,000 tours and processed more than 15 million professional photographs. They are a full-service provider offering everything from aerial drone videos to virtual staging. The analytics continue to be a client favorite, as well.
“One of the best parts of my job is showing our top clients their analytics reports. It makes them look like rock starts to their clients.”– Rebecca Lombardo, Chief Marketing Officer at TruPlace
Rebecca, who has a background in photography, joined TruPlace right before the pandemic-induced shutdowns began in 2020. Despite the challenges and government restrictions, TruPlace experienced double-digit growth. Website page views were up 252% from the previous year, and more partners came on board.
“When the sky started falling in the spring last year, we hunkered down and focused on doing what we do best so real estate agents, who were deemed an essentialservice, could keep doing what they needed to do.”– Rebecca Lombardo, Chief Marketing Officer at TruPlace
With virtual tours now becoming a permanent tool for agents, TruPlace will continue to focus on the new way to market a listing.